EA Reform Sub-Committee Meeting Minutes
March 12, 2013
In attendance: Bonnie Caldwell, HAPHousing, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jim Reis, HAPHousing, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority
Have housed 8 families since 2/12, total 44 families have been housed thus far at a total cost of $16,641.
- Approximately 50% of the families are NOT eligible initially, but eventually approximately 35% of the families become EA eligible post placement
- Approximately 55% of the families are RAFT eligible
- Approximately 5% of the families have an unknown outcome
HAP receiving many calls to put up families from DCF, legal advocates – families who are not EA eligible for a variety of reasons, e.g., failure to provide documentation
Robin Sherman testified last week at Joint Committee on Ways and Means at budget hearing on HomeBASE, RAFT and HCECs and yesterday testified at legislative day for Regional Housing Networks for HomeBASE, RAFT and MRVP. 44 legislators present. Advocated to modify RAFT to allow for limited use of funds for temporary accommodations to prevent homelessness. Feels like this is the right response to the gap HAP is filling.
HAP shared that RAFT will be out by mid-May for Hampshire/Hampden Counties.
HAP also shared that the ESG dollars initially promised to help pay for this emergency housing have not yet been finalized. Still trying to work out the logistics with DHCD (barriers are unclear).
Robin shared that Franklin County has not seen families in similar emergency housing need situations. Also commented that in the big picture, a total of 44 families served under HAP/VOC assistance is not an overwhelming number and suggests that the new regulations are overall working.
Agreement on future meetings: to merge this sub-committee back into main family services meeting and carve out time in each family services agenda to report out and discuss this topic.
Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
March 12, 2013
In attendance: Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, John Busbin, Community Legal Aid, Bonnie Caldwell, HAPHousing, Cris Carl, ServiceNet, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers’ Council, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Kathleen Hardie, Valuing Our Children – North Quabbin, Toni Hochstadt, Community Action, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Faith Lafayette, DPH/FOR Families, Lynn Minella, WomanShelter, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Jim Reis, HAPHousing, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Rachel Trant, DCF, Luz Vega, WomanShelter, Kena Vescovi, Valuing our Children, North Quabbin
Secure Jobs Connect Kick-off Update
Pamela reported on the successful kick-off/press conference held on 3/5 at Holyoke Community College to launch the Fireman Foundation grant for workforce development for homeless families (called Secure Jobs Connect). Over 65 people attended, several state legislators and mayors, and the event received media coverage in every single media outlet in Western Mass. Congratulations to all!
Ken Demers of CPM provided this programmatic update: thus far SJC has received 100 referrals. Dozens enrolled in the program. 3 heads of household are In jobs, several others in training. Continuing to expand business base. Media coverage resulted in contacts from businesses and landlords.
Pamela reported on several meetings with legislators thus far: Senator Downing and Rep. Barley-Fouvier and aide to Rep. Pignatelli in the Berkshires; Senator Rosenberg, Rep. Kocot and aides to Rep. John Scibak, Paul Mark and Ellen Story in Hampshire County; waiting to hear from CareerPoint as to their rescheduled legislative meeting (due to weather) that the Network will attend for Hampden County; meeting scheduled for 3/14 with Senator Brewer’s Senate Ways and Means staff in Boston and with Rep. Kulik, vice-chair of House Ways and Means on 4/11. Network partners are sharing legislative priorities and focusing much discussion on revenue agenda (per the Leadership Council’s endorsement of the Governor’s tax and investment proposals). Pamela also shared that following the Network’s vote in support of the Governor’s proposal, the Network was asked to participate in a conference call with the Governor to discuss his agenda.
Robin Sherman, executive director of Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, testified last week at Joint Committee on Ways and Means at budget hearing on HomeBASE, RAFT and HCECs and yesterday testified at legislative day for Regional Housing Networks for HomeBASE, RAFT and MRVP. 44 legislators present. Advocated to modify RAFT to allow for limited use of funds for temporary accommodations to prevent homelessness. Re: HomeBASE, advocated for need for additional resources to support families who are losing their rental assistance. Believes there is strong support in legislature for housing programs, relatively optimistic with respect to ongoing funding for the programs since there is recognition and support among key people in the legislature of the importance of the housing first approach.
Pamela suggested that everyone, in personal and professional capacity, contact their state legislators to express support for Network agenda (including tax reform); that constituent communication is absolutely critical to our success.
HAP will be out of RAFT funds by mid-April for Hampshire/Hampden County. NOTE: we received notice from HAP on 3/15 that all RAFT and ESG funds for Hampden and Hampshire Counties are now depleted.
(Also almost out of Springfield ESG money – prevention funds as well. Sequestration may impact and cost more dollars.)
Franklin County Regional Housing: RAFT funds remain.
HAP, CHD and NEFWC have done an extraordinary job moving families out of motels into housing – the number of families in motels has gone from 513 to 283 families in Western Mass., a 45% reduction that far exceeds any other part of the state.
HOWEVER, the MRVPs that were distributed to facilitate the moves are almost all gone. And many families have hit their 32 week limit for using the $4,000 of HomeBASE assistance (and the assistance is no longer available to them). So there is concern that numbers will climb again since more families have no way resources to move out
Faith Lafayette of FOR Families provided an update on staffing for motels (click here for staff/hotel listing, thanks to HAP for compiling). Now there are only approximately 5 families at the Quality Inn in West Springfield and 9 families at the Days Inn in Holyoke. Staff reassigned to include Ashley mcGurn at the Econo-Lodge in Chicopee and new staff coverage at the Days Inn in Greenfield.
The Motel Task Force honored Ashley McGurn for her extraordinary work at the Quality Inn, along with the managers of the hotel. Congratulations to Ashley!
Jim Reis of HAP reported DHCD supplemental budget for HomeBASE included $1 million for regional housing authorities to increase stabilization – response to HomeBASE subsidies expiring. Challenge is using this before 6/30/13.
Toni Hochstadt of Community Action reported on ESG prevention money for Hampshire/Franklin/Hampden (outside of Springfield): funds still available. Criteria includes: must be in a legal eviction proceeding, below 30% AMI, must be a history of DV, documented disability or history of homelessness. Max $4,000, up to 6 months of arrears, utility assistance for market rate only (not subsidized). Relocation money also may be available. Community Legal Aid has legal representation sub-contract. Working closely with Tenancy Preservation Project, too.
Robin Sherman, FCRHRA, on federal sequestration impact: if this continues, for regional housing authorities and their Section 8 programs, there could be a serious impact, including the possibility of not leasing up new households or reducing payments. Very serious and concerning.
Rachel Trant of DCF: the DCF Housing Unit is currently hiring a program coordinator to work with housing stabilization and homeless health and safety assessment unit. Staff person will be assigned to every DCF family who is currently placed in shelter. In interviewing process. Hopefully will start within next month.
Welcome to our new attendees, Kena Vescovi and Kathleen Hardie of Valuing our Children – North Quabbin. A brief overview of their program: Family Center and Resource Center in N. Quabbin, located in Athol and serves 9 communities (Orange, Irving, New Salem, etc.). Has both a Family Center and Resource Center (provide parent education, play groups, individual support, e.g.) and at the resource center, the biggest need they’re seeing is homelessness.
Next meeting dates:
4/23, 1-2:30 pm, Holyoke
5/14, 9:30 – 11 am, Northampton